Disney World readies itself for the legal fight with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
If there is a popularity contest going on, it’s in Florida right now between Walt Disney World and Governor Ron DeSantis.
Politically, DeSantis won the governor's election in 2019 by 1.5 million votes, but lost Orange County, where Walt Disney World is located. Disney World, which spans over 27,000 acres, has over 58 million visitors each year, but obviously those people do not get a vote on governor, but they do get a vote on where to spend their tourism dollars.
After DeSantis decided to take on Disney, the company has found several ways to deal with the situation. The governor was able to use the Florida House of Representatives, which is heavy with Republicans to take over the Reedy Creek Improvement District, by appointing his supporters to the RCID board. The RCID manages the infrastructure and municipal services for Disney World, which employs roughly 75,000 workers in Florida.
Previous laws gave RCID the ability to self-govern as a quasi-county government entity. While Disney did not put up a fight when DeSantis made his move to control the RCID, it did put in a neutrality plan for the next 30+ years against any unfavorable moves by the DeSantis controlled board.
DeSantis Continues to Attack Disney
The new entity known as Central Florida Tourism Oversight District is still operating as the RCID would have, but under a new name, and new board members. However, DeSantis and crew figured out that the original plan to dismantle the RCID would put an undue tax burden on the taxpayers and voters of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
A second meeting of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District’ is set for April 19, and the agenda is packed full of how DeSantis wants to take on Disney as enemy No. 1. The DeSantis controlled board is now taking the angle that it believes that there are criminal actions to be taken against the Walt Disney World staff and former RCID board members themselves.
Disney released this statement to Blog Mickey regarding the attempt of criminal charges against Disney and its RCID board members.
"All agreements signed between Disney and the District were appropriate, and were discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums in compliance with Florida’s Government in the Sunshine law," Disney said in a statement.
Agenda items further to discussed are the request to “remove from office and terminate all Planning and Zoning Board members and appoint the Board of Supervisors to serve as the local planning agency of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.” This is an attempt at DeSantis’s board to have more power than to just control tax funding to pay for roads and maintain basic infrastructure. It is currently unclear if the board has the authority to terminate itself.
Legal Woes Continue
DeSantis is spending roughly $1,300 an hour of tax dollars to fight Disney, according to Business Insider . Disney is able to foot the legal bills and could continue to fight back with donations if it needed funding, as allies to having policies that embrace diversity, equity and inclusion would be welcome to support the cause. DeSantis is in his second term as Florida Governor, may make a run for the U.S. Presidency in 2024. His attack on Disney, criticizing the company as having ‘woke’ liberal policies, may be just an elaborate theatrical performance of legal terms to get and remain in the political spotlight.
DeSantis wants to take away a significant amount of Disney's control. He claims that is it essentially a tax evasion scam. To his dismay, his plan to dismantle the RCID could place a tax burden on the local taxpayers around Disney World. Walt Disney Co.
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